|These are the many business strategies and related technologies for
controlling intellectual property rights in digital and traditional media.
The advent of digital devices has created an intellectual property crisis. Is it possible to control the spread of something that can be infinitely copied without loss and at no cost? Even traditional media are not safe. Anything can be scanned or otherwise converted to a digital equivalent. The doom cries of the multibillon-dollar media companies are making Chicken Little seem optimistic in comparison. What’s that? Are those war-drums banging in the distance?
Digital rights management (DRM) is a business approach to controlling the distribution of valuable information across all forms of media. The strategy is to manage and enforce intellectual property rights through a combination of technology and law. Creating and maintaining a protected yet accessible environment for valuable content is fundamental to successful digital rights management.
Museums are faced with a similar mandate: protecting valuable artwork without ruining the visual experience. Ropes, panes of glass, and advanced sensors are some of the techniques used by museums. Similarly, digital rights management technologies use encryption and software restrictions to protect content while preserving accessibility. In both cases, the rule is look, but don’t touch or take.
Gathering revenue is another concern shared by museums and media creators. Museums can charge admission to the entire facility as well as individual exhibits. Patrons can get discounts or privileged access if they have a membership card. Likewise, digital rights management strategies usually incorporate flexible revenue collection systems.
The concept of fair use reproduction gives a vigorous shake to an already complex situation. In the spirit of fair use, many museums allow people to reproduce artwork in limited ways. You can set up an easel and attempt to paint your own copy of a modern masterpiece. You can sometimes use video cameras or take no-flash photographs. You can even purchase a high-quality reproduction from the museum’s store (and you can do almost anything you want with your copy, but it would be considered fraud if you tried to pass it off as the original). However, what you can’t do is identically reproduce the museum’s artwork. Even if it were technically possible to create an exact copy of a painting, the museum physically controls access to the original. In many ways, the physical nature of the medium effectively prevents unauthorized duplication.
If only it were as simple with digital data. One copy is just as valuable as any other. No physical original exists and no physical barriers prevent duplication. One fair use duplication could be used to make thousands of unfair copies.
The above information is the start of a chapter in "Network Security Illustrated," published by McGraw-Hill and available from amazon.com, as well as your local bookstore. The book goes into much greater depth on this topic. To learn more about the book and what it covers, click here.
Below, you'll find links to online resources that supplement this portion of the book.